SINGAPORE - Tributes have poured in for T. Balasundram, a local boxing icon who coached Singapore's team at the Youth Olympic Games in 2010, following his death on Thursday (March 10). He was 66.
He died in his Yishun home with his wife Vasantha and daughters Durga Devi and Gaiyathri by his side.
Devi, 43, said her father was diagnosed with kidney cancer about 2 ½ years ago and then brain cancer last year. She added: "He was a very motivational person who was always cheering up people around him. As a family, we are very proud of the legacy he has left behind for the sport in Singapore."
The Singapore Amateur Boxing Association (Saba), where Balasundram served as vice-president till he stepped down in 2020, paid tribute on social media: "One of our long time boxing coach father figure has just passed away."
Balasundram, or coach Bala as he was fondly known in the fraternity, was a regular face at the Farrer Park boxing gymnasium, once the home of Singapore boxing.
There, he mentored and trained several national boxers. One of them is flyweight Hanurdeen Hamid, who clinched bronze medals at the 2017 and 2019 SEA Games.
Hanurdeen, 28, took up the sport when he was 13 and trained under Balasundram. He said: "He was a father figure to those he trained. I could always go and speak to him about anything that was going on in my personal life. He would tell me not to worry and he would always make me feel like I could overcome anything in and out of the ring."
Saba president Syed Abdul Kadir, 74, has known Balasundram, whose other nickname was Golden Arrow, since the early 1990s and called it a "sad day for the sport".
He noted: "He has mentored and trained many boxers and it is a great loss for Singapore boxing. He was a really funny guy and really cared about the boxers under his charge."
Balasundram's body will be cremated at the Mandai Crematorium on Friday evening.